Blue Tarpaulin and Looking at the Stars

My friend Helena Mulkerns has her first short story collection due out with Doire Press on 1 November. The launch occurred last night. I’m proud of what she has accomplished and particularly want to share this devastating poem of hers “Blue Tarpaulin”. Helena has spent long periods of her life working in conflict zones among people who have lost everything – and this poem rings so true. Especially that last line.

Go here to listen to the poem.

I’d also like to promote poet Kerrie O’Brien’s brainchild, Looking at the Stars, a short story collection in aid of the Simon Community. Many well-known Irish writers have contributed and it is definitely worth a look. More information at

Blue Tarpaulin and Looking at the Stars


Sometimes there is no guarantee that you can make a life’s work out of doing what you love.

Sometimes in spite of good intentions the time you need to keep the momentum going that is needed for being a serious novelist just won’t be there.

Sometimes the money or programme or encouragement to be able to put that time aside won’t materialise.

Or sometimes it will materialise for others and not for you and sometimes their work will be deserving and sometimes it won’t. And that can be as much luck and timing as anything else.

Though sometimes it won’t be just luck and timing. Sometimes it will be social nous, cunning, charisma and plenty of other things that are not related to writing but seem to help push their work up the greasy pole.

Sometimes you will fight for your work in an environment where people fight dirty. And sometimes you will rest and fight another day.

And sometimes you will be given an unexpected gift of time and fill it up with work. And hope that the work you have given at the end of this time is enough, because you are not going to get that gift again. That is where I am right now.

Sometimes a crazy piece of luck might help turn things around. The right person loves your first novel. Or something in your synopsis inflames the imagination of an international person who might help you. Just something, one thing, sometimes, might lift you out of the cycle. Take the endless striving off your shoulders. That is not where I am right now.

Or sometimes, you might walk away replete with the knowledge that at least you have done your utmost.

Sometimes, it is hard to know what will happen.